Inspired by the success of the Bridgewater Canal, businessmen on both sides of the Pennines looked to canals to resolve long-standing problems of getting their products to market. Opposition from landowners caused a change of plan to cutting a canal and a connecting railway to bring limestone from the Peak District to supply the chemical industry.
The chapters of the book comprise the early history, the track and the rolling stock, traffic and operation, the route and the Peak Forest Canal. Finally the story is told of decline and closure between the wars, further decline of the canal infrastructure post-war and then, from the 1960s, efforts to restore and re-open the canal. The book includes 80 illustrations, mainly photographs and maps.